Why Is Theory Important in Nursing?

Nursing is a field that requires the use of many theories. They are often needed to make quick decisions about patients based on their knowledge of the theory in nursing. This is because there is so much information out there that nurses have to keep up with and remember.

Nurses need to know how drugs work concerning body systems, what the stages of a disease are like, and how different conditions present themselves differently or even interact with each other.

The more they know about this kind of thing, the better prepared they will be for making decisions when it comes time for them to act quickly.

The theory has always been an essential part of being a nurse; however, it’s becoming even more imperative than ever before because we live in such a fast-growing society.

We will discuss why theory is important in nursing while providing you with some insight into which nursing theories exist.

What Is the Theory, and Why Do Nurses Need It?

In the nineteenth century, Florence Nightingale, the author of the first modern nursing theory, observed nursing education and put these theories into practice.

Florence Nightingale identified five environmental factors in her Environmental Theory: 

  • Fresh air 
  • Pure water
  • Efficient drainage 
  • Cleanliness or sanitation
  • Light or direct sunlight

Albeit a long time ago, Florence Nightingale’s theories are still relevant today.

She said the profession most needed nurses willing to serve wherever they found themselves and not just in hospitals or wealthy homes.

She observed that many women would be eager for such work because it allowed them to earn money and have some independence while caring for others.

Theories emphasize and explain how nursing professionals should act when taking care of patients.

Having a theory is a way to organize information about nursing so people can more easily understand the subject matter. It provides guidelines on what actions professionals will want to take with their clientele based on research findings.

Nurses need theory as well as practice, education, science-based knowledge, and practical experience. It helps them understand the world of nursing and know how to act in a particular situation.

The theory is critical in nursing because it helps nurses understand their role and what actions they will want to take in specific situations. Theory can provide answers to complex questions about healthcare or other issues that may arise within the field.

The Nursing Metaparadigm

The nursing theory focuses on four main concepts: the person, the environment, health, and nursing. These four are often interrelated and collectively called a metaparadigm for nursing.


The person receiving nursing care includes individuals, patients, groups, families, and communities.


An environment is defined as the internal and external circumstances affecting the client. This includes both positive and negative factors that affect the patient, the patient’s physical environment, such as their family, friends, and significant others, and the setting for the healthcare they receive.


A client’s state of wellness or well-being is defined as their level of well-being, and it may mean different things to each patient, the clinical setting, and the provider of healthcare.


As part of the patient’s care team, the nurse’s attributes, characteristics, and actions are provided. The nursing theory focuses on improving the patient’s care, although health care scholars may have difficulty agreeing on its exact definition.

Importance of Theory in Nursing

From science to art, nursing incorporates theory from all fields to offer quality care for patients. Theories are important because they allow nurses to understand how different aspects of health and illness affect each other.

Nurses must be able to understand these connections to provide appropriate treatment plans for their patients. 

They also need to distinguish between the different types of theory, such as psychodynamic, behavioral, and cognitive theories for their patients.

Nurses must understand how these theoretical approaches affect treatment plans to provide the best care for all people.

The theory is critical because, without it, there would be no way for nurses (or doctors) to know which type of treatments are appropriate since they can’t see inside of us.

Who are Nursing Theories Used By?

Nurses of any position or specialty need to know the theories behind their practice. 

This is because they are integral in guiding nursing practices, improving patient outcomes, and providing a foundation for knowledge acquisition (Center on Organization and Restructuring of Schools).

Nurses working within administration often rely on theory when dealing with complex cases or problematic employees.

LPNs will need to understand these theories while taking care of patients’ needs at home. Nursing theories will be utilized in course design and also during clinical rotations in nursing school.

The theory is essential when working with patients because they are the basis behind all nursing interventions.

The theory will also underpin nurses’ understanding of how health care systems operate and the current socio-economic climate, which affects patient demographics and populations served within those systems.

Purposes of Nursing Theories

The primary goal of nursing theory is to influence health and quality positively.  Nursing theories are used to help nurses think critically about questions that they have related to nursing.

A nurse can use theory as a guideline when solving problems in their practice and developing new treatments. In the United States, there is no single approach or set of ideas designated as standard nursing care practices; this leads many nurses to rely on both cultural norms and medical evidence-based policies.

All healthcare providers need to know what type of treatment plan will work best for each patient because it could make a difference between life and death. This includes not only doctors but also nurses who provide hands-on care!

For example, if you’re caring for someone who speaks Arabic, it may be difficult for you to talk to them and understand what they’re trying to say if you don’t talk about the language.

If you have a patient in shock, it may be difficult for that person’s body to produce enough blood pressure without receiving medical treatment. You also need to know which type of treatment would work best for each individual!

Theory can help guide nurses when making decisions about their careers and improving healthcare quality by keeping up with new developments in nursing care practices.

In addition, theory helps nurses develop evidence-based skills by reading scholarly articles and conducting research projects, something all future RNs should do during school before graduating.


The nursing theory can help patients, managers, and other healthcare professionals understand the unique contribution nurses make to healthcare services.

It is essential to know the theory underpinning nursing practice because it can help nurses make better decisions and care for their patients.

More Resources for Nursing Theory

Download Nurse Bingo Today!

nurse gift tags

Liven up any shift with a fun game of bingo. See who can fill a row first!
Fill a whole card and lose grip with reality.

Your privacy is protected. We will never spam you.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top